Many people are trying to install DoudouLinux definitively on hard disk, because they're found of it ;) and have a quite old computer sleeping on a shelf. Some other ones are also willing to install DoudouLinux in schools, which is a great initiative :). Until now we've been only providing a “Live-like” installation which is identical to a Live USB key but on an internal hard disk. This is practical and very easy for users but has several drawbacks:

  • System updates don't replace the Live system files but consume extra space
  • Our installation tool wipes out the entire hard disk
  • Updating to a new version of DoudouLinux is not managed

For these reasons we've started to work on several ways to really install DoudouLinux onto hard disk. In this post we're using a minimal Debian install as a start point to seed DoudouLinux on the computer, which may last up to one hour per computer. This technique can also be used to create a “Live” USB key that is indeed a real system, not a Live system, or derived into a chroot installation process. The first case, real system on USB key, has been successfully tested.

NB: Currently only the development version can be installed as explained in this post.

Installing Debian

We assume that you're perfectly mastering the Debian installation process, so we won't tell too much about this. As we're performing a minimal Debian installation, you shouldn't be afraid of ending with a console-only system. We also recommend to use a wired network connection if you don't want to bother with WiFi credentials from the command line!

To install DoudouLinux, using 3 partitions (system root, home and swap) should be sufficient. However we recommend to select manual partitioning even if you don't want to make a multi-boot system nor install onto an USB key. This way you'll be able to set a root partition that matches your needs or to use an ext4 filesystem. Your root partition should be able to host all the packages downloaded from the Internet (in /var), which requires around 1 GB, and a DoudouLinux system alone requires 3 GB of free disk space. If you want to install additional applications, you should set a larger root partition up to 10 GB.

Install using Debian – disk partionning

When the Debian installer will ask you what kind of system you want to install, deselect “Desktop environment” to avoid installing many applications that are not in DoudouLinux. This will lead to a Debian console-only system.

Install using Debian – selected tasks

Bootloader or not bootloader

Near the end of the Debian installation process, you'll be asked if you want to install the bootloader on the first drive. You need to do this only if you're installing on the internal hard drive of your computer (and don't have a bootloader already installed of course!). If you're installing onto an USB key, answering yes to this question will not install the bootloader on your key but on your internal hard disk instead!

Install using Debian – Grub or not Grub?

In the case of an USB key, you can install the bootloader afterwards by restarting the Debian installation CD but choosing the rescue mode at bootup. When the rescue system will ask you if you want to start a console in a chroot environment, answer yes then choose your USB key root partition as system root. Doing this, the rescue system will be able to install Grub2 onto your USB key with the simple following command:

# grub-install /dev/sdx

where /dev/sdx is the path to your USB key device. As you may understand, you have to write down the path of your USB key during the previous installation process of Debian in order not to make mistakes :).

First reboot

As said above, rebooting your newly installed system should lead you to a minimal command-line system, so log in it as root.

Install using Debian – first reboot

Note that if you hadn't networking or have discarded it during the Debian install process, you'll need to edit /etc/apt/sources.list to add the Debian repositories, and to bring up your networking interface manually:

# dhclient eth0

Of course change the interface number eth0 if needed.

If you don't want to bother with inserting the Debian installation CD/DVD while installing DoudouLinux, also comment or even remove the corresponding lines in /etc/apt/sources.list. Now let's add the DoudouLinux repositories:

# echo "deb squeeze main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/doudoulinux.list

You now have to install the repository key:

# apt-get update
# apt-get install --force-yes -y doudoulinux-keyring
# apt-get update

Finally we recommend to disable the installation of recommended packages, which avoids the use of 1.3 GB extra space in our tests. You need to create the file /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/90recommends-suggests and type:

  Install-Recommends "false";
  Install-Suggests "false";

Your system is now ready to install DoudouLinux! Note that you can reactivate recommendations afterwards if you prefer not to bother with missing optional components when installing applications.

Install DoudouLinux

Thanks to all the work done for the migration of DoudouLinux to ARM™, DoudouLinux is more and more a standard system with its own installation packages. Although using the packages is still not leading to an exact copy of the Live system, it is now really very close to it and few details are missing only. Installing the full DoudouLinux environment is now as simple as:

# apt-get install doudoulinux-desktop-environment openbox

That's it! Note that, as of writing, openbox is only needed in this line because of a missing dependency :). This will be fixed soon. During the installation process, Samba will ask you the domain name, just press enter. After a couple of minutes or tens of minutes (depending on your computer and your Internet connection), the job will be done. You can now install packages that are specific to the x86 architecture, among those Plymouth:

# apt-get install doudoulinux-x86

Alternatively, if your system requires additional dirvers and firmware, for network devices for example, you may want to install our meta-package doudoulinux-live-drivers. It depends at least on the non-free section of the Debian repositories:

# sed -i 's/ main/ main contrib non-free/' /etc/apt/sources.list
# apt-get update
# apt-get install doudoulinux-live-drivers

Finally we recommend to add several useful tools:

# apt-get install less bash-completion ntpdate

You'll have to edit /etc/default/ntpdate to tell it not to use the NTPD parameters, since this package is not installed. Finally you may want to manage packages using synaptic and remove orphan packages using gtkorphan:

# apt-get install synaptic gtkorphan libgnome2-perl rarian-compat apt-xapian-index

Now it's time to configure the boot splash. Change the default Plymouth theme to the DoudouLinux one:

# plymouth-set-default-theme doudou-witch

To show Plymouth at boot, you have to add splash to the boot command line. To do this, edit /etc/default/grub and replace “quiet” by “quiet splash”. You'll also need to add modules to your RAM disk image, refer to the Debian wiki page for that since this depends on your hardware. Alternatively, if your video chipset is not recent enough, you might prefer make Plymouth use the framebuffer mode.

You can now regenerate the RAM disk image and the Grub menu:

# update-initramfs -u
# update-grub2

Unfortunately we haven't got a theme packaged for Grub2 yet, the very early boot will then be text only.

Finally you can edit /etc/xdg/user-dirs.defaults to avoid it to create unneeded directories in user's homes, for example Desktop, Template and Share.

Cleaning the system

You may need to remove extra packages that your minimal Debian installation has installed:

# apt-get purge exim4* at cron portmap rpcbind openssh-client

You can then purge the packages that are not necessary to DoudouLinux and clean the package cache directory:

# apt-get autoremove --purge
# apt-get clean
# reboot

GtkOrphan may also help you find additional and uneeded libraries. Your DoudouLinux system is now totally ready for use by children! The final total disk space used on my test machine is 3.1 GB while the maximum disk space needed during the installation was 3.9 GB. And the system boots in 12 seconds in VirtualBox without any special trick!

Have a good DoudouLinux!